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English Reading Series Goes Online, Brings in Big Names

Despite the challenges of remote campus events, members of the English department feel that the English reading series event is now better than ever.

The English Reading Series has long been a valuable program for prospective writers to meet with successful, published authors to help students in their pursuits in a writing career. Despite COVID-19 restrictions on the event, many in the English department feel that the event is now better than ever.

In years past, BYU paid authors from around the country to fly out and address students and faculty about their recent work. This stipulation immediately limited the number of authors would be able to attend the event. Since the pandemic limited travel and in-person gatherings, the reading series has gone completely online, giving both authors and students more freedom to meet from the comfort of their own homes.

Spencer Hyde, an assistant professor in the English department, noted some unforeseen benefits of going completely online. “Before, we had about 60 to 70 people each week, but with Zoom, we have had upwards of 175 people in attendance.”

The influx of people may in part be due to the easier accessibility of Zoom, but Hyde pointed out another reason more people are attending now.

“We can bring in bigger names at a fraction of the cost. Last week was a Pulitzer Prize winner, this week another Pulitzer Prize winner,” Hyde said. “There's no way that would’ve happened without the pandemic.”

Among the authors scheduled for the series this semester are the 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, 2020 National Book Award finalist Rick Barot, and 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding.

The reading series will be held each week until the end of the semester. Join the English department Fridays at 12 p.m. for the event. For the link to attend the event, or to watch previous reading series events, click here.